Lyn Hejinian’s The Book of a Thousand Eyes
Kelli Anne Noftle’s I Was There for Your Somniloquy
have been reviewed in recent issues of Library Journal:
From the 5/1/12 issue of Library Journal:
Hejinian, Lyn. The Book of a Thousand Eyes. Omnidawn, dist. by IPG. 2012. c.352p. ISBN 9781890650575. pap. $24.95. POETRY
Although, according to the poet, this collection was inspired by Scheherazade, the heroine of The Arabian Nights, Hejinian (English, Univ. of California, Berkeley; Saga/Circus) doesn’t straightforwardly tell stories so much as she implies them. All of the poems in this collection are anchored in dreamlike states, evoking, for the most part, the minutes in which the narrator is falling asleep or awakening. Generally without titles, these language poems depend on their first lines to set the stage for Hejinian’s rambling night thoughts. In one of the more engaging works, “A dream, still clinging like light to the dark, rounding,” Hejinian, who is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, muses on falling asleep, dreaming, and being awakened by outside noises. As with the other poems here, “A dream” works by alliteration, enjambment, and metaphysical wordplay, as when the poet says that a new day has “the psychical quality of ‘pastness.’” Although most of the pieces are short, a few longer prose poems are also included. VERDICT Disdaining traditional conceptions of meaning, these pieces teeter sometimes pleasingly on the edge of incoherence.
—Diane Scharper, Towson Univ., Lutherville, MD
From the 5/15/12 issue of Library Journal:
Noftle, Kelli Anne. I Was There for Your Somniloquy. Omnidawn, dist. by IPG. 2012. c.72p. ISBN 9781890650599. pap. $15.95. POETRY
Noftle’s first book of poems—she is a singer-songwriter and former art student—launches with a slimy sequence about sea slugs. Her surreal, luscious language evokes the sexy ooze and play of underwater invertebrates (the sea slug’s heart is “a slipknot of mucus”) but is occasionally undercut by syntactical sloppiness: “We see the shore is nothing but a line our eyes make, searching for names where the water ends and sand begins.” After the sea slug section, which is captioned by factoids sourced to a natural science web forum, the poems about painting are clear and intellectually assured—“I’ve personally never used the gloss. It hardens my brushes and I’m/ unaffected”—and the work takes on an appealing voice. Throughout, parasomnia (disruptive sleep behaviors) and somniloquy (sleep talking) are used as metaphors for consciousness and perhaps to shroud disturbing autobiographic details. Attempting to invoke a sleep/wake state known as hypnagogia, the poet simultaneously remembers and forgets the trauma of the primal scene: “If I can float/ on my own language I can submerge/ this memory.” VERDICT: Textured, energetic poems about tactile perception that sometimes feel unfinished; lovers of contemporary poetry may want to investigate.
—Ellen Kaufman, New York
For more information on the books, including how to order, click the cover images, or browse our full poetry catalog here.